Wednesday, November 6, 2013

With Win at Texas, Jimmie Johnson Takes a 68-31% Lead Over Matt Kenseth For the Title

By winning and leading the most laps at Texas, Jimmie Johnson’s dominating performance gave him a 7-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the standings, breaking their tie from last week. While 7 points may not seem like a huge lead, it’s good enough to give Johnson a 68.1% chance of winning the title. Kenseth’s fourth place finish put him at 31.4%, down from 41% last week.

Combined, these top two drivers have a 99.5% chance of winning the title. The only names left are Kevin Harvick (0.35%) and Kyle Busch (0.17%), who would need extreme miracles to catch up.

To get a sense of how far ahead Johnson and Kenseth are, the expected points total for this year’s champion is now around 2420. This is much higher than where recent champions Tony Stewart (2403) and Brad Keselowski (2400) finished in the last two years. Johnson and Kenseth are on pace to beat both of those championship totals. Unfortunately, the loser of this battle could have won the title in either of the past two years.

Notice the long tail below 2400, stretching as low as 2375. These results would only happen if Johnson and Kenseth both suffer problems in the final two races, and it might allow Busch or Harvick to sneak in with an unexpected victory. Busch and Harvick’s only chance for winning the title can come if both leaders have problems in both races. It’s theoretically possible, but not probable.

Check in next week, after Phoenix, for the probabilities going into the last race at Homestead.